The Divergence of Judaism and Islam. Interdependence, Modernity, and Political Turmoil

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Issues of Jewish History as Reflected in Modern Egyptian Historiography · 249

of Luṭfi al-Sayyed, who did not differentiate between Zionists and
Jews since the 1940s.^51

This proves to Shalash that the Jews of Egypt were not rejected by the
Egyptians nor did they feel any rejection or hostility toward them. How-
ever, in his opinion, the purpose of Zionist historiography was to dis-
seminate a false historic version according to which the Jews in Egypt
suffered constant persecution, only in order to justify their preference for


A review of the Egyptian historical literature over the last three decades
reveals several main findings. The first indicates that the approach of
the mainstream in Egyptian historiography has been essentially uniform
with regard to Jewish history and that it continues to doubt fundamental
events that were claimed to have occurred in the Jewish past. Another
point is that the themes that have preoccupied the Egyptian historiog-
raphers since the second half of the 1970s, with a prevailing feeling of
military victory, are not very different from those it dealt with during the
1950s and 1960s, when it suffered from a sense of military defeat by Is-
rael. Moreover, one may say that Egyptian historiography predominantly
maintained the same claims made during the years of defeat, and apart
from adopting ideas from archaeological research and biblical criticism,
it does not contain any important ideas that were not expressed earlier.
Also, the growing number of studies published during the last three
decades and the unsympathetic approach expressed in most of them
proves that wide circles of Egyptian academicians tend to maintain their
attitude toward the Jews as their religious or political enemy. It is likewise
important to mention that the peace process between Israel and Egypt
did not lead to any modification of the approaches of historians belong-
ing to the nationalist stream, who have always considered the Jews as
invaders in the region. It also did not considerably change the approach
of the Islamist historians who ever since the beginning of the polemic
between Islam and Judaism in the Middle Ages have regarded the Jews
as a religious enemy. Furthermore, the need to create a counternarrative
to the Jewish one has prevailed and even intensified.
It therefore seems that the motives of the historians of the old

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